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What you should know about new Red Sox infielder Mike Aviles

07.30.11 at 4:26 pm ET
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The newest Red Sox, Mike Aviles. (AP)

The Red Sox acquired infielder Mike Aviles Saturday for Yamaico Navarro and minor league pitcher Kendal Volz. Let’s take a closer look …

WHAT THE RED SOX GAVE UP: The 23-year-old Navarro was being used by the Red Sox as a super-utilityman, having played 11 games at third base, three in the outfield, and three more at shortstop. In his 16 games, Navarro was hitting.216, striking out nine times and walking three. He is projected more as a third baseman down the road, although his recent work in the outfield (playing exclusively in left field for the Sox) enhances his value somewhat. Volz is  ninth-round pick from the 2009 draft, having been moved into the bullpen for Single-A Salem this season. The right-hander was 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA, striking out 56 an walking 12 in 51 1/3 innings this season, while watching his fastball play up from 89 mph to 93 mph.

DOES AVILES HAVE OPTIONS?: Yes. The 30-year-old, who played in 35 games with Triple-A Omaha this season after beginning the year as the Royals’ starting third baseman on Opening Day (having most recently called-up on July 20), can be sent to the minors.

WHAT DOES AVILES BRING TO THE TABLE: The 2003 Division 3 Player of the Year (having hit .500 with 22 homers for Concordia College) has shown versatility and speed, both of which are of value to this current Red Sox roster. While he began the season as a third baseman — playing 24 games there for the Royals — he spent his time manning shortstop while in Omaha, playing 34 games there for the Triple-A club. In 301 major league games, he has played 144 games at shortstop, 135 at second, and 38 at third. Aviles is a legitimate pinch-running option off the bench (which the Red Sox are lacking), having stolen 10 bases this season in 12 attempts. In ’10, he swiped 14 in 19 chances. As one talent evaluator told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, the infielder “has a good feel for the game.” The right-handed batter has also performed extremely well against lefty pitching this season, totaling .309 batting average (compared to a .185 clip vs. lefties).

WHERE COULD HE END UP: Spending some time in the outfield (even though Aviles has no experience at the position). Here is Red Sox manager Terry Francona after the deal was made: ”Kind of a guy our organization I think our organization has kind of liked from afar for a while,” Francona said. “He came up, he was that guy that could really hit left-handers – actually both. His ability to play short, second, third, then he had the arm surgery, it kind of slowed him down, derailed him for a while. He can run, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. How we would use him, I don’t know. Some of it is probably going to depend on Jed [Lowrie] because Jed’s probably not too far away. But he seems excited to be here. We’re happy to have him. At some point, I think we’d like to get him to the outfield just because I think we think he can do it. he hasn’t done that yet but we’ll see.”

WHAT AVILES MIGHT BE LACKING: The infielder hasn’t been a huge on-base guy of late, carrying just a .261 OBP in 53 games this season after finishing his 110 games in ’10 at .335. He has taken 3.54 pitches per plate appearance. Aviles hasn’t carried over the momentum from a ’10 campaign which saw him .304 with a .748 OPS in 110 games with the Royals in ’10, having been shipped to the minors twice this season. He has particular trouble against right-handed pitchers’ fastballs, hitting .181 against such offerings.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT AVILES: He was the Royals’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2007, with Aviles earning Player of the Year honors for the big club the following season, having been called up to be KC’s everyday shortstop on May 27, 2008. In that ’08 campaign — in which he finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting — Aviles hit .325 with .354 on-base percentage to go along with 10 homers while hitting in the Royals’ No. 2 spot. Aviles succumbed to Tommy John surgery in ’09. His uncle, Ramon Aviles, played for the Red Sox in 1977. Aviles signed for just a $1,000 signing bonus despite the fact the player taken immediately behind him in the ’03 draft signed for $138,500. He was available in the Rule 5 Draft following the 2007 season, in which he hit 17 Triple-A homers, with no team selecting him.

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